Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

In Theatres: 
Oct 21, 2016
Running Time: 
118 minutes
Tom Cruise is back as the one man army, former military, unstoppable ass kicker on a mission, Jack Reacher. Reacher is cross country hitch hiking, solving crimes and serving hot knuckle sandwiches to any fool who’d dare to try him. We learn that even criminals hiding behind badges aren’t safe as Reacher busts a human trafficking ring operated by local cops.
As Reacher thumbs it from city to city he stays in contact with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). Their conversations progress from professional to personal as days and skylines pass by. Eventually, Reacher asks Turner to dinner and a date is planned. However, Reacher’s romantic plans are dashed when he returns to Washington D.C. only to find Turner has been arrested for espionage. 
Reacher’s invincibility, internal sexism, expression of only three emotions (rage, indifference, lust?) , and surprise daughter feel like an attempt to recreate the beloved action films of the mid-to-late 1980’s. However, the film also carries over the cheesy lines and plot holes big enough for a Mack truck to roll through.  
It’s been said that movies operate like dreams, with the mundanity of everyday life being cut through to get to the important moments. However, the editing of Never Go Back is overzealous, chopping out parts of the narrative that would help the audience understand where we are and how we got here. Fundamentals of storytelling are disregarded much to the film’s and the audience’s, and the passage of time that you can never recover as a human being shuffling along the mortal coil’s detriment. 
In one scene Turner, without reason, asks a cab driver “Are you a Mets fan?” We’re not sure why she asks him this and nothing ever comes from the interaction. We don’t even hear the man’s reply. In another scene, the duo have inexplicably changed vehicles from a car to a wooden panel family van. How they came across that vehicle and why they chose that one is never revealed. Henchmen villains, without any personal motivation, continue to try and kill Reacher even after their criminal boss has been exposed and arrested.  
Characters make irritatingly stupid decisions and nothing outside of seeing Turner as a capable equal, seems much of challenge for Reacher. We all expect Reacher to win (he does), but we never get the sense that there is every any real danger. He doesn’t pay any price for escaping an Army prison nor for anything else. There's no usurping or subverting of expectations or tropes, only full embraces of both. Give me a hint of danger, a dash of consequence, something to make me sit forward a little. We’re giving none of that. Instead, Never Go Back seems more an instruction than an invitation.
Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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